Field Stories 11 October 2018

Empowering girls with skills for a better future

Some of the girls benefiting from the apprenticeship program with their sewing machines

The International Day of the Girl Child, since it was launched in 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly, has been celebrated annually on 11th October. The purpose for the day is to promote girl’s empowerment and fulfilment of their human rights. The day also seeks to highlight the challenges that girls all over the world face in access to education, equality and skills training, among other things. Under the 2018 theme, “With Her – A Skilled GirlForce’’, the day will focus on the need to expand existing learning opportunities as well as map out new ways to empower girls. It will also prompt the global community to rethink how to prepare girls for a successful transition into the world of work.

ICI has been working with actors in the cocoa supply chain to promote a protective environment for the girl child in cocoa-growing communities. This has all been in our bid to promote child protection in these communities by encouraging child-centred community development. Through our work with community structures like the Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC), we ensure that children in the cocoa-growing communities are protected from child labour.

We have facilitated community development actions such as the construction of schools and the setting up of income generating activities for parents to ensure that they can provide for the needs of their children. We also provide direct support to children – for instance, educational support for those in school and the opportunity to enrol in apprenticeship programmes for those between 15 to 17 years.

Currently, 47 girls have been supported to enrol in apprenticeship programmes of their choice in Ghana. These girls are engaged in developing skills in hairdressing and sewing. They are equipped with all the tools needed for their trade as well as their enrolment fees. They are also given a monthly stipend to assist with their financial needs within the training period.

Girls like Dina Anful, Augustina Brago, Bernice Bedi and Gifty Yeboah, can now look forward to a brighter future because they are gaining skills to enhance their development.

According to Bernice;

“My parents were not in the position to continue funding my education after I completed the Junior High School. So, I decided to learn a trade but raising the money for me to start was still a challenge for them. I was overjoyed when I had the opportunity to join this programme. I am now learning to be a seamstress. My purpose for choosing to learn how to sew is because I realized it can be very beneficial to me. You can make a good living if you are a skilled tailor or seamstress. I see that it can help me to achieve the vision that I am aiming for in the future. I know that with the skills I am gaining, I can accomplish all that I have set before me to achieve,” says 16-year-old Bernice Bedi.

All 47 girls were identified by the CCPC in their communities to be at risk of child labour. Like another beneficiary, Augustina Brago they had been through traumatic experiences due to the financial situation of their parents. Some had to work under hazardous conditions on cocoa farms, others had to go and serve in more privileged households in their bid to raise the funds needed to start the training.

Today, as we celebrate the girl child and reflect on the efforts we can make for her to become a skilled worker in the future, we look at the impact which has been made in the lives of these girls. We are also encouraged to know that more girls are protected from child labour in cocoa as they are supported to either go to school or gain practical skills for their future.

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